Leaping and frogging
June 25, 2010 4:27 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for examples of technology 'leapfrogging' [particularly in heatlhcare] where a newer technology finds higher uptake in developing economies compared to developed economies. Example: Mobile phone technology in Africa is reaching areas where landline never got to and now never will.

Do you know of other examples because I cant imagine this being an isolated example but it is certainly the most commonly cited. Any other examples will be good but extra points if they are in healthcare.
posted by london302 to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Aren't there improved anti-viral delivery systems that don't need refrigeration? (Sorry that's so vague).
posted by Leon at 4:55 AM on June 25, 2010

Are you looking at the extensive use of mobiles in healthcare as a way to provide services or is it healthcare excluding the use of mobiles?
posted by infini at 5:08 AM on June 25, 2010

I think mobiles was an example of the general case of technology leapfrogging, and the OP is curious about healthcare in the particular case.
posted by dfriedman at 5:36 AM on June 25, 2010

Best answer: Healthcare-related: aren't there modern water filtering systems that are being put in developing countries, which systems leapfrog the technology of plumbing?
posted by dfriedman at 5:37 AM on June 25, 2010

Cameras are similar: some countries more-or-less skipped film entirely and went straight to digital.

It's also not clear to me that the example that mobile phones find "higher uptake in developing countries compared to developed countries" is entirely true. obwikipedia
posted by robtoo at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2010

A friend of mine was complaining bitterly that some NGO was putting modern PVC plumbing into African villages instead of old-fashioned metal plumbing; he didn't see why they should have good modern plumbing free when we have crappy 100-year-old plumbing that costs a buttload to de-lead-ify. (I was trying to point out it's probably cheaper install PVC from scratch than to install metal, even if retrofitting for PVC is ass expensive, and why should they have to get lead poisoning just because we did? But he really could not comprehend the leapfrogging idea; he thought every country had to follow the EXACT SAME DEVELOPMENT PATH the First World did, as, like, some sort of moral imperative to build national character? It was a little weird.)

Plumbing is more public health than health CARE, per se, but it's along those lines.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:11 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

The nigerian film industry is an example of digital spreading before film ever really took hold.
posted by mercredi at 6:17 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, Japan deployed an analog HDTV system in the 80's, which the US sat out to later go digital.

How about the seawater desalination used in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia?
posted by NortonDC at 6:18 AM on June 25, 2010

robtoo, while the number of mobile phone users in developing countries may still be small compared to developed countries, the developing countries' rural areas "leapt" almost straight to mobile wireless technology without ever having wired telephone infrastructure.
posted by reegmo at 6:37 AM on June 25, 2010

Airports are built in places that were never reached by railroads.
posted by Quietgal at 6:53 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I meant healthcare provided via mobile phone, voice and sms where it is the platform over which services are being delivered.



posted by infini at 7:06 AM on June 25, 2010

Best answer: Hey there,

I'm not sure that these examples are leapfrogging per se because they have been developed, mostly, with the developing world in mind. That being said, some of them are wonderfully elegant technologies that would do just as well in the developed world if we didn't start with $1 billion to solve every problem.

As you can see, I watch a lot of talks at Ted.com...

Incubator Blankets
Water-purifier bottle
Some other stuff
Not really applicable but cool (and being implemented in India so it may yet leapfrog)
Diagnostic tools

Great question by the way, I've been thinking about this myself recently and wondering if anyone will ever do for the power grid what was done to the telephone system through mobile phones.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 7:13 AM on June 25, 2010

When I was in Africa most everyone used solar heaters to get their household hot water. That was fifteen years ago. The US is just catching up.
posted by alms at 8:14 AM on June 25, 2010

robtoo, while the number of mobile phone users in developing countries may still be small compared to developed countries,

In February 2009 there were 4 billion mobile phone users in the world. Only 1.2 billion are in the developed world or among the top income brackets in their respective countries.
posted by infini at 8:42 AM on June 25, 2010

The Economist did a story about this in India -- re hospital management and information systems. Subscribers only I'm afraid. Here is a related story, also from The Economist.
posted by grobstein at 9:23 AM on June 25, 2010

Best answer: HPV vaccines and/or HPV testing in developing countries that lack the infrastructure for pap testing. Come to think of it, a lot of what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does might fit.
posted by Violet Hour at 12:46 PM on June 25, 2010

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